With the recent Carrie remake coming out a few weeks ago, and the new RoboCop film hitting theaters in February, I thought I’d do a list on one of the most controversial topics in Entertainment. Here are my Top Five Remakes Worthy of Their Originals.
5. Evil Dead (2013)
Technically, I think this falls under “reboot” but still, I’m including it because it is one of my favorite films from this year. Plus, it has almost the exact same plot as the original Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, which was basically a remake of the first film. A group of young people go to a cabin in the woods for the weekend and end up accidentally unleashing demons. The biggest difference is that it has a female lead and the reason the group is at the cabin is to support her choice to quit using drugs cold turkey. This makes her friends’ resistance to her “paranoia” a little more realistic. The other major change is in the tone of the film. The first three films had a comedic, even campy feel to them, while still embracing the horror aspect. This film goes for straight horror and gore, and it is hugely successful. It is one of the most disgusting and disturbing films I have ever seen, and I mean that as a complete compliment.
4. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
This may be a little bit of a cheat since the film is actually based on an off-Broadway musical that was based on the original film about a flower shop that gets overrun by a man-eating plant but I think it is still essentially a remake. One of the best ways to update a film is to take a completely new approach to the story. Turning Little Shop of Horrors into a musical was a brilliant idea (thank you Alan Menken and Howard Ashman). Add on Frank Oz’s inspired direction and you get a hilariously entertaining film. Bill Murray makes a memorable appearance as the overzealous patient. Jack Nicholson played the part in the original and pretty much anything Nicholson does is perfect, so Murray definitely had his work cut out for him. The best part of the film is Steve Martin as the psychotic masochistic dentist. He does a little bit of Elvis mixed with evil for the part and it is amazing!
3. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
A group of ex cons get together to pull off a massive casino heist in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the original film does have Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and an opening credits designed by Saul Bass … wait, what was my point? Oh yeah, even though the original has plenty of things working for it, it just doesn’t seem to be successful all the time. The 2001 film does. George Clooney has his unaffected cool guy routine going on (back when it hadn’t become a bit of a crutch), Brad Pitt was in his prime (not to mention he made everything he ate look so damn good!), and everyone else was spot on in their roles. This is a great ensemble film, featuring funny and quick dialogue, with a glitzy setting that all together is a good solid heist flick that feels a little tighter than the original.
2. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Horror films are easy pickings for remakes, reboots and “re-imaginings,” so it should be no surprise that I have more than one on my list. I don’t quite remember all of the original Dawn of the Dead. I saw it once years ago. From what I remember it’s the same basic set up; a group of strangers end up holed up in a shopping mall as a zombie apocalypse happens outside. I have seen the 2004 remake many many times because it is one of my favorite zombie films. As far as the genre goes, it sticks to the classics: strangers band together in the face of evil, zombies need to be shot in the head, the virus is spreads through bites, etc. The birdseye view of Ana (Sarah Polley) driving along as chaos explodes around her is both intensely stunning and terrifying. It’s one of the many things the remake adds to make the story more impactful and exciting.
1. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Normally John Carpenter’s The Thing would be at the top of my list but since I just covered it in my Top Ten Horror list, I excluded it. The next best remake is this western featuring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. The story stays roughly the same as the original, a rancher volunteers to escort an outlaw to catch the train to Yuma, where the prison is. A little more backstory on Dan Evans (Bale) and a couple extra side adventures are thrown in to update the film. The performances are really what makes this such a worthy remake. Russell Crowe is cold and mysterious as Ben Wade, making for an intriguing villain, while Christian Bale plays a much more feeble version of the rancher, Dan Evans. This actually makes him a little less sympathetic as a character but also sets up a more complete story arc. Then there is Ben Foster, who steals every scene he is in, as the conniving right-hand man to Ben Wade, Charlie Prince. This is a case of perfect casting. The original stars Glenn Ford and Van Heflin as the two leads, who are pretty darn flawless. Trying to fill those shoes is a great undertaking and Crowe and Bale do an outstanding job.